Saturday, November 15, 2008


A couple of years ago my sisters and I started a writing prject together, we would pick different subjects and write little stories or essays about them. It only lasted a couple of weeks, but some really great writing came out of it. Here is one of those. This particular short story was inspired by the photo, the ideas was to get a random photo and start writing about it. This one came from my friend Michael Wiltbank's collection. And this is the story it inspired.

a short story by Preston Smith

Etulia clung to thick metallic chains that hung around Sourire De Grand-Papa’s neck. She and Sourire De Grand-Papa had been friends from the beginning of their journey. They didn’t speak the same language. Sourire was from Togo, a sliver of a land between Ghana and Benin. Etulia didn’t know anything about Togo; all she knew was that Sourire De Grand-Papa had been kind to her on the boat. He was the only friend she had known besides Libre, her Cheetah. Sourire had very dark skin as apposed to Etulia’s light milky dark skin. When Etulia first came on the boat, lost and disoriented, Sourire took her by the hand and crouched down to her level and smiled, his white teeth were beautiful to Etulia and she felt safe with him. Soon she began to call him Sourire, or Smile in her native tongue, French.

The boat was rancid with sweaty bodies. Malnutrition plagued the boats occupants. The wood floor was slippery from human bile and vomit. The bread that was given to the occupants was often to rank to eat and the people would use it to calm the slippery floor. Later they would gladly take all the bile and vomit infested floors for one morsel of rotten bread. Adults like Sourire were chained to one another, but the children were not. Everyone was naked. Etulia got use to feeling tired and hungry; her stomach soon ballooned out giving her a little pop belly. It didn’t bother her but then she didn’t know it was the onset of malnutrition. Sourire knew too well what it meant; he had lost two children to starvation and knew it was only a matter of time for Etulia. But he would only continue smiling at her, knowing there was nothing he could do.

One day, 4 weeks into the journey, Etulia became disoriented in the mass of sweaty bodies. Sourire found her body curled in a dark corner barely alive. He pulled her clear of the throng and held her near his warm body. He began to cry and the tears fell on Etulia’s face. Her weak eyes opened and she looked up into her friends smiling face. She smiled softly and closed her eyes again. Sourire held her tight. He saw his daughter and wife back in Togo struggling to survive without him. Their dark faces looked sad and feeble. He continued to cry.

Etulia’s breath got weaker and weaker. Her pot belly rose and fell gently under Sourire’s hand. Etulia saw herself lying on her back in the desert. The warm sun danced on her naked body. She stood up and squinted in the bright sun. In the distance she could see an object moving quickly towards her. Under her breath, Sourire heard her say Libre over and over again. Unable to understand, he spoke the word out loud. Soon someone next to him was saying Libre, and then another and then another. Before long the entire group was yelling Libre! Libre! Libre! Free! Free! Free!


Courtney and Jared Curt said...

That sounds like fun...writing a story after seeing a picture. You definately have a lot of creativity.

Courtney and Jared Curt said...

I sure hope chapter 4 gets posted before you all leave to ireland! What am I going to do without talking to Mindi two or three times a day?! I can't believe you guys are leaving in two days! Have fun!

Preston Smith said...

chapter 4 will post on saturday... or it is scheduled to.